Rookie Art dela Cruz admits going up against dad's team brings out best in him
Blackwater rookie Art dela Cruz matched his career high with 21 points against Phoenix, where his dad and namesake is one of the assistant coaches. Jaime Campos

KNOWING that your father is present to watch you play is already an inspiration.

It seems there’s extra motivation when he’s on the opposing side.

Art dela Cruz matched his career-high of 21 points on Wednesday in Blackwater’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup match against Phoenix, where his dad, Arturo, is an assistant coach.

The Elite rookie forward duplicated his scoring feat in the Philippine Cup – also against his father and then Barako Bul.

“Masarap makita nasa kabila yung daddy ko,” Dela Cruz said after the game. “Na-i-inspire at nacha-challenge ako sa mga kalaban ko at sa daddy ko. Pinapakita ko yung capability ko.”

[See Phoenix dodges bullet in regulation, nips Blackwater in overtime]

In just two conference, the younger Dela Cruz has already surpassed his dad’s own career-high of 20 points which he scored in his playing days with San Miguel Beer, according to league statistician Fidel Mangonon III.

“Ah talaga?” The Blackwater forward asked with a laugh when he learned about his dad’s feat.

But Dela Cruz’s career-high-tying feat went for naught as the Elite suffered a 124-120 overtime loss to the Fuel Masters, their fourth straight and seventh overall against three wins.

“Medyo lumalabo na yung picture ng playoffs,” Dela Cruz admitted. “Pero learn from the experience na lang. At least mayroon kaming unli (no restrictions on import's) height sa next conference.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos